Writing in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Lu & Hsu detail their randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled clinical trial looking at green tea extract in adult women with moderate to severe acne. A group of 64 women aged 25-45 completed the study over a four week period.
Clinical Trial for Green Tea Extract for Acne Relief
The randomly assigned intervention group took 1500 mg decaffeinated green tea extract in capsule form. Each capsule provided 856 mg of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) daily. The control group took placebo capsules containing cellulose.
To assess the effects of the green tea extract for acne relief, the researchers performed inflammatory lesion counts before participants took the supplements and after four weeks of supplementation. They also measured fasting glucose levels, lipid levels, and took anthropometric measurements.
After four weeks, the women taking green tea had significantly lower inflammatory lesion counts on the nose, chin, and around the mouth compared to the placebo group. The green tea group also had significant reductions in inflammatory lesions on the forehead and cheek, and a reduction in total lesion counts.
Additionally, those taking green tea extract for acne relief had significant reductions in total cholesterol levels – not a bad side effect!
In an earlier study, a topical solution containing 1% or 5% green tea EGCG used for eight weeks reduced acne severity compared to baseline (Yoon et al., 2013).
Green Tea and Acne – what’s the link?
How might green tea extract be helping with acne symptoms? One possible mechanism is the effect of EGCG on an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. This enzyme plays a role in androgen-mediated skin disorders, including acne. EGCG appears to inhibit the enzyme, which could help reduce the production of undesirable forms of testosterone (Shaw, 2001).
Green tea extract also contains polyphenols that protect the skin against damage from ultraviolet light (Elmets et al., 2001). This antioxidant capacity might help maintain an effective skin barrier to guard against infection with the bacteria that cause acne, Propionibacterium acnes. EGCG also appears to reduce the viability of this bacterium when used topically (Yoon et al., 2013).
What’s more, EGCG has been found to reduce inflammation by suppressing NF-kB and AP-1 pathways, and could also inhibit excess sebum production (Yoon et al., 2013). Green tea extract might offer a triple whammy against acne, it seems!
If you’re considering green tea extract for acne relief, look for a high quality green tea extract supplement standardized for EGCG. And pick up a copy of Eat to Beat Acne, which includes a recipe for a green tea facial cleanser!
Green tea extract may modulate liver function, and could interact with tests to assess liver health and with numerous medications. Be sure to consult your physician prior to taking any supplements.
Elmets, C.A., Singh, D., Tubesing, K., et al. (2001). Cutaneous photoprotection from ultraviolet injury by green tea polyphenols. J Am Acad Dermatol, 44:425-32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11209110
Lu, P.H., & Hsu, C.H. (2016). Does supplementation with green tea extract improve acne in post-adolescent women? A randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled clinical trial. Complement Ther Med, Apr;25:159-63. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27062963
Shaw, J.C. (2001). Green tea polyphenols may be useful in the treatment of androgen-mediated skin disorders. Arch Dermatol, 137:664. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11346351
Yoon, J.Y., Kwon, H.H., Min, S.U., et al. (2013). Epigallocatechin-3-gallate improves acne in humans by modulating intracellular molecular targets and inhibiting P. acnes. J.Invest Dermatol, 133(2):429-440. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23096708